EUREKA – Both Le Roy and Eureka left the bases loaded on two occasions during an April 27 Heart of Illinois Conference game.
That was the kind of day it was for each offense.
The Hornets pushed across a run in the bottom of the sixth inning and snuffed out the Panthers having the tying run 90 feet from home plate to begin the seventh to claim a 2-1 victory at the middle school.
A leadoff triple to center field by Gabe Bennett put Le Roy (19-8, 6-6) in prime position in the seventh.
But, Eureka reliever Adam Anderson (3-1) got the next three outs to keep Bennett at third and the Hornets still alive in the conference race.
“Ever since we joined the HOIC, there’s good baseball,” Hornets’ coach Dane Wear stated. “We’re playing three games a week. We know we have to play against good teams at a high level.
“In the Corn Belt, our focus was getting ready for the postseason,” Wear continued. “For our guys, I think that’s still our focus, but it’s nice to put something in front of them. The Corn Belt was so stacked, it was tough to compete.”
The Panthers got a run in the sixth, but left three on.
“How good is our defense and our pitching?” pointed out Wear. “This is the way it’s been for us. They know how to pitch. They’re confident our defense will do the job.”
Anderson allowed an inherited runner to touch home, but we worked two scoreless frames and struck out four. Starter Garrett Peterson permitted a run on six hits over five-plus.
Eureka (19-4-1, 10-2) was limited to just one hit through five.
“In the fourth, I went to look at the (score) book and thought are we hitting the ball?” Wear said. “We can pound some runs. Today was an off day.”
That was also the case for Panthers’ starter Nate Sammer, who issued seven walks in three innings before he was lifted in the fourth.
Zac Messer led off the sixth with a solid single to center. He moved to second on a walk and reached third on a groundout before Brady Krile wheeled out a two-out infield single deep in the hole at shortstop to bring Messer in.
Eureka batters struck out seven times on the day, which included chasing several pitches up.
According to Wear, that is a bit misleading.
“To be honest, the plate discipline was good,” he said. “We had the Sammer kid with 80 pitches in the fourth inning. He’s a good pitcher. He was off. The problem was the inconsistency of the strike zone. I hate to say that, but nobody knew what a strike was.”
Mason Buckles suffered the loss in relief for Le Roy.